Can a piece be considered a great work of art, even if its subject matter is hideous?
Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon comes to mind. The painting, one of the most important works ever created and one that changed the art world forever, is really quite an abomination. “A more abstract denunciation of humanity can’t be imagined,” wrote Thomas Hoving, former director of the
But, what about Tiffany lamps? Was there ever a Les Demoiselles d'Avignon among them? Personally, I don’t think so, at least as far as something ugly or repulsive. The Bat, Spider and Octopus lamps, however, are pretty unusual designs that one might think look most at home decorating the parlor at
The Bat lamp. No less that six soaring bats grace the lower rim of the domed shade and three more are casted beautifully in the green-blue mosaic incrusted base. Only three known original examples of this lamp are known to exist.
Bat lamp on mosaic tile base. Photo courtesy Sotheby's New York.
The Spider lamp. Six enormous spider legs guard a web of leaded glass making up the dome-shaped shade. The base is an inverted mushroom (or, maybe it’s a toadstool!). Not as uncommon as the Bat lamp, but still generally commands over $40K at recent auctions.
Spider lamp on inverted mushroom base. Photo courtesy Doyle New York.
The Octopus lamp. Captain Nemo would be proud to display this in his office on the Nautilus. But, who ever heard of an Octopus with twelve tentacles? Wouldn’t that make it a Dodecapus?
Octopus lamp. Photo courtesy Christie's New York.